Is Sleep Really That Important?

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If you’re like many Americans, getting a good night’s rest is a challenge. After all, there are other priorities that compete for your time: family, kids, work, and social activities, just to name a few. When schedules are very full, sleep is often considered a luxury. An occasional sleepless night may leave you foggy and irritable. Lack of sleep, over a prolonged period of time, can dramatically impact your health and wellness. Not only is there a direct correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain, but lack of sleep has also been linked to certain types of cancer. If you need more convincing, check out these facts:


1) Poor sleep can increase appetite, due to its effect on hormones that signal hunger and fullness. Ghrelin is released in the stomach that signals hunger in the brain. Cortisol levels increase, which can increase appetite.


2) Poor sleep can decrease your self-control and decision-making abilities and can increase the brain’s reaction to food. Poor sleep can also increase cravings for high calorie, high fat foods. This can impact late-night snacking and portion sizes.


3) Just a few days of poor sleep can cause insulin resistance that is a precursor to both weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

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4) Lack of sleep may decrease your exercise motivation, quantity and intensity. When you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is be active.


5) Some studies have shown that poor sleep may decrease your resting metabolic rate (RMR). One contributing factor is that poor sleep may cause muscle loss.


6) Lack of sleep can also deplete your immune system, making it more difficult to fight off illness. If you already have a compromised immune system, quality sleep is essential to your health and wellness.


7) When you exercise, especially with weight bearing activity, your muscles break down. During sleep, they are repaired. When you are sleep deprived, your muscles do not adequately repair themselves, compromising strength and flexibility.


8) Severe sleep deprivation has symptoms similar to dementia. Bottom line, lack of sleep impacts mental health and wellbeing.


The next time you’re faced with a choice that compromises your sleep, you may wish to reconsider.


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